How has one of the oldest gift-giving days in the calendar become the St Valentine’s Day we now know (and secretly love)?
February 14th was chosen as a saint’s day for various Christian martyrs named Valentine. One such Valentine was an Italian bishop around 200 AD, martyred for marrying couples against the laws of the Roman emperor. The emperor believed that married soldiers were less effective in battle than bachelors. By the Middle Ages it became popular to exchange handmade love-notes and by the seventeenth century the giving of gifts and cards had become a tradition.
During the 19th century Valentine’s cards had become so popular that companies began mass production, encouraged by a growing postal service and falling postal prices. St Valentine’s Day is now one of the most important mass marketing events of the year.
Did you know that…
- Approximately 1 billion cards are exchanged each year
- St Valentine’s Day is the most important day in the year for florists
- St Valentine is the patron saint of spring in Slovenia
- In Japan February 14th is Giri-Choco, when Japanese women give chocolates to male co-workers and bosses. The reverse happens in March (White Day) when the men give chocolate to the women